Cosan Limited Class A (NYSE:CZZ)
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Brazil's cost of producing sugar should keep a firm floor beneath world prices in 2012, though cost pressures could ease from this year thanks to a weaker local currency and a partial recovery in the sugarcane industry, a top industry executive said Tuesday.
Pedro Mizutani, executive vice president for ethanol, sugar and bioenergy at Raizen--a joint venture between Brazil's Cosan SA (CZZ, CSAN3.BR) and Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSA.LN, RDSB), said on the sidelines of an event that sugar prices should range between 22 cents and 26 cents a pound next year.
Brazil's main 2011-12 sugarcane harvest is nearly over, and mills are expected to end up having crushed about 12% less cane than a year earlier. The lackluster harvest has come mainly as a result of inconsistent investment in replanting of cane fields during recent years, combined with bad weather.
Given normal weather, analysts say the 2012-13 crop should improve somewhat. But the average age of sugarcane fields in the key center-south region will almost certainly remain too high to be efficient.
Mizutani said Raizen's cane fields should get younger next year and likely yield more, thanks to the company's commitment to replanting in recent years.
But the company is considering revising its five-year target for crushing capacity, as opportunities to buy up cane mills have been few and far between and greenfield projects aren't cost effective at the moment. Raizen's current goal is to expand milling capacity to 100 million metric tons of sugarcane by the 2016-17 crop year, up from current capacity of 65 million tons.
-By Paul Kiernan, Dow Jones Newswires, +55-11-3544-7074, firstname.lastname@example.org